Anyone passing a glance over Wales’s pre-match team photos in recent months would notice there’s something just not quite right about them.
From the numbers not stacking up (four at the back, seven at the front anyone?) to the lopsided nature of the players’ arrangement when a more traditional six-plus-five formation is put into practice, it would appear members of the Welsh national team have a curiously skewed idea of what symmetry is. Then again, it’s more likely that they’re just having a bit a team in-joke.
Jürgen Klopp says he is already looking forward to Liverpool’s EFL Cup meeting with Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield next month after the sides were paired in the fourth-round draw.
The Reds are set to take on Mauricio Pochettino’s team for a place in the semi-finals of a competition they have won on a record eight occasions as a round packed with mouthwatering ties is played out.
Klopp admits to raising a smile when he saw Liverpool’s Premier League rivals paired with each other prior to his team coming out of the hat, though he remains excited by the prospect of a headline clash with Spurs.
And he believes the fixture is a good opportunity for his players and the club’s supporters to create a big atmosphere in the absence of European football this term:
“It’s exciting. It’s the first draw I watched live because I saw the game before. I was waiting for the draw and then saw West Ham – Chelsea, a little smile to be honest; then Manchester United – City, oh nice, another smile; then a freeze in my face because we got Tottenham! But it’s good. I think it’s a big boost for the competition.
“When I came here I had to explain why we field strong line-ups and now in the competition it looks like a semi-final each game.
“It’s a big opportunity for all the teams, they all try to go through and you can see this with the line-ups. That’s pretty exciting. I am happy about playing at home.
“When we cannot have European nights, let’s take what we can get. It will be fantastic and I am really looking forward to it.”
The two sides have faced each other already this season, playing out a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane in a match in which the Reds had a slight advantage on balance of play.
Liverpool have confirmed their EFL Cup fourth-round tie with Tottenham Hotspur will be played on Tuesday October 25 at 7.45pm. The pairing of a number of the remaining bigger clubs this time around means that at least a few lower league sides should make it through to the quarter-finals in November. The EFL Cup then takes a break for December before the remaining teams face a two-legged semi-final in January.
A year is a long time in the world of football. It was only a year ago that the team was playing so poorly that Brendan Rodgers lost his job.
Jürgen Klopp has brought a different style of football – more entertaining and effective style of football – not always needing to pass the ball into the back of the net. As an example, last season from the 9th August when the Premier League season began to when Liverpool completed their 3rd round League Cup match against Carlisle, the team only scored six goals in all competitions. Compare that to the 19 goals that Liverpool have scored in one less game so far this season – and that’s including the awful goalless game against Burnley.
And at the opposite end of the pitch in 2015 we were leaking goals: three against West Ham, and three against Manchester United. This season we see a much-improved Lovren, and exciting performances from Matip and the steady hand of Klavan.
The new look team has got off to a strong start, the goals are flying in, and in these early days, Klopp’s Reds aren’t a team you’d want to bet against. There’s no telling what the future will hold for Liverpool, but a look back at the recent past can give us hope for brighter days ahead.
I was sad to read that that Liverpool and Wales midfielder Joe Allen has transferred to Stoke City, with £11M guaranteed up front plus a further £2M in add-ons.
Allen joined Liverpool in 2012 from Swansea in a £15M move, the first signing of the Brendan Rodgers era at Anfield, but injuries and an inability to ever really find his best position at his new club led to a situation where Allen became something of a utility part in the squad.
That role continued under Jürgen Klopp last season, though Allen increasingly impressed when played either as a driving eight in a three-man midfield or when he was pushed into the attacking support band as a ten. He then shone for Wales in that kind of a role at the Euros.
I was keen for the player to stay, and Klopp admitted that all things being equal he’d want to keep Allen around. All things, though, weren’t equal. The player had just one year left to go in his deal and wanted to be assured of significant playing time.
Liverpool couldn’t offer that, and didn’t want to lose him on a free. And if he wasn’t going to be a starter as the club looked to reshape itself in Klopp’s image, Liverpool also wanted to bring in—and give playing time to—players who would be around beyond the coming season.
He now will head to an increasingly ambitious Stoke City project, joining players like Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan Krkic, Marko Arnautovic, and Giannelli Imbula in a side that seeks to entertain and to play up-tempo attacking football. Quite the change from Stoke in years past.
The Liverpool FC legend that is Joe Allen, following Wales’s remarkable run to the semifinals of Euro 2016 made it into the Euro 2016 Team of the Tournament.
The Welsh Pirlo was the linchpin in the Wales midfield allowing the superstar Gareth Bale and the rest of their attackers to focus on the attacking end. Allen’s terrific performances were a big reason for Wales’s run through the tournament. It was their first ever international tournament and they exceeded all expectations.
Here’s to hoping that the confidence gained from the Best XI award will carry over to the new Premier League season …
The new Liverpool FC away kit for 2016-2017 has been released.
This year, New Balance dipped back into the black well for the away kit, a trend that is becoming increasingly common, not just for Liverpool, but for many other squads. The design is very reminiscent of Adidas’s last away effort in 2011/12, which was dark grey with silver lettering and red accents.
The new Liverpool 2016-17 Away Shirt combines the main color black with silver logos and applications, one of Liverpool’s most renowned away kit colors. It has a unique constructed collar and features four red lines on each side of the shirt.
The inside of the new Liverpool 16-17 Away Kit reads “Liverpool was made for me and I was made for Liverpool,” a famous quote by former manager Bill Shakily. The Liverpool 2016-2017 Away Kit is combined with black shorts and black socks, creating a strong look for Merseyside club.
This is the new Liverpool 2016-17 goalkeeper away jersey.
Based on the same template as other New Balance 2016-2017 goalkeeper jerseys, the Liverpool 16-17 goalkeeper away shirt is orange with black and white trim.
What do you think of the new Liverpool 2016-2017 Away Kit? Let me know in the comments below.
This European Championships will be the first to take place after the untimely death of football’s great philosopher-king, Johan Cruyff. While sadly Johan himself will not be present, Cruyff’s legacy will very much be felt at Euro 2016.
Cruyff is regarded as the pioneer of ‘Total Football’, a way of playing football in which players were free to respond to the demands of the game without traditional positional constraints. Players rotated, swapped positions and moved around the field; it is remarkable and sometimes disorienting to watch. The system relied on a strong understanding between players, effective on-pitch communication and a willingness to sacrifice individual self for the sake of the team’s collective success …
Like Total Football, the Church depends on its members working in unison to achieve an outcome that no one individual could muster alone. Each member has a role – a preferred position, if you will – and where we are able we should fulfil the role given to us (1 Corinthians 12:18). You can move around to fill the needs of your context, and sometimes you’ll feel out of position, but if your teammates (‘fellow workers’ to use a biblical term) are on the same wavelength, then you’ll be covered (Galations 6:2).
Cruyff’s disciples wholly bought into his way of playing and thinking about football. Ronald Koeman (Southampton FC manager) said, after Cruyff death: “Johan walks through my life.”
You’re a disciple of Christ? To what extent does Jesus Christ “walk through your life”? How is his presence felt in the way you perceive the role(s) you’ve been asked to play?
You don’t get to rewrite the rules of Christian discipleship, you’ve not be asked to move the goalposts, and you’ve definitely been given a position to play. But you do get to do everything in your power to play that position as intelligently and selflessly as you can. These are the tactics that have been given to us by our very own Philosopher-King.
UEFA have announced a list of top players appearing at Euro 2016 this summer in France. The list includes the ever dependable James Milner.
Even Liverpool fans would be surprised that Milner made it onto the list, let alone earning the fourth or fifth spot (depending on which UEFA-sanctioned version of the list you choose to believe). Milner had a very strong second half to the season, but in a gathering of Europe’s best players at a single tournament, you would have expected to see Toni Kroos, Paul Pogba, and others ahead of Milner.
UEFA was quick to point out that the ranking is the result of lots of very official sounding science, should you not be sure of their methods.
The UEFA EURO 2016 Player Barometer is tracking players’ form in the build-up to and during the tournament. The Barometer runs official player statistics through a specially-designed algorithm to create rankings based on player performances.
Player data from qualifying formed the initial basis for the rankings, which have taken into account performances for club and country from 1 January 2016. This gives a unique and comprehensive evaluation of players’ form when UEFA EURO 2016 kicks off, after which the Barometer will track which players are excelling in the tournament itself.
Regardless of how they arrived at the rankings, it’s a nice boost for Milner ahead of his representing England in his fourth major tournament and second European Championships. Whether he stays on the list will depend on how much of his Liverpool form he can bring to Roy Hodgson’s squad, but by the time the tournament starts, UEFA’s ranking list is likely to be the furthest thing from his mind.
Liverpool today officially completed the signing of FSV Mainz goalkeeper Loris Karius in a bargain £4.7M deal.
Having already secured the services of Joel Matip and Marko Grujic for next season, Liverpool have today completed the signing of Loris Karius after the club triggered his £4.7M release clause. The goalkeeper will officially become a Liverpool player at the start of next month, and the club have officially announced his signing today.
With Matip a free transfer and Grujic signed in Janaury before being loaned straight back to Red Star Belgrade, Karius is the first paid transfer of the summer for Liverpool, and given his low release clause it’s quite the bargain for a player voted second best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga last season by his peers. The only shot stopper rated higher was Manuel Neuer.
Karius will arrive at Liverpool expecting to become the starting goalkeeper, and he will look to use that as a platform to succeed Neuer as Germany’s goalkeeper following the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The only question is how long it takes him to become Liverpool’s starter, which could be complicated by rumours he will be called up to Germany’s Olympic squad.
If so, it would mean he will miss his first pre-season with the Reds, potentially allowing Mignolet to hold on to the number one job for at least a little while longer. Karius spent two and a half seasons with Manchester City, leaving him six months shy of being eligible to count as homegrown. He started 36 games for FSV Mainz last season and recorded ten clean sheets.
In total, the 22-year-old has made 96 senior appearances for Mainz since he moved there from City in January of 2013. Though he has yet to make a single senior appearance for the German team, he has represented his country at every youth level, and getting him signed quickly was a priority for Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool’s staff following the end of the season.
Jürgen Klopp said:
“I am really pleased that we were able to move so quickly to get him and that Loris has shown such a desire to come to Liverpool with a lot of other clubs interested in him. I know he will add to the quality we have in this position and I look forward to working with him and all our players when we return for pre-season.”